September 26, 2007 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: Terrorism suspect arraigned

The Spokesman-Review
 

A European terrorism suspect accused of planning to teach followers how to make bombs, poison people and slit throats yelled at a judge while proclaiming his innocence during an arraignment Tuesday in federal court.

“This is all unjust and unfair,” railed Oussama Kassir, a Lebanese-born Swede.

In announcing the suspect’s extradition to New York from the Czech Republic, U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said Kassir also offered bomb- and poison-making tips on several Web sites.

Kassir pleaded not guilty Tuesday to counts that include conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure people in a foreign country; providing material support to terrorists; and distributing information related to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.

Prosecutors say Kassir and others wanted to set up the camp in Bly, Ore., to teach military-style methods so a community of Muslims could move to Afghanistan to fight or receive further training there. The camp was never realized.

Huntsville, Texas

Convicted killer put to death

The nation’s busiest death penalty state executed another inmate Tuesday night, undeterred by a pending Supreme Court review of whether the lethal injection method most states use is cruel and unusual.

Michael Richard, 49, was put to death for the 1986 shooting of Marguerite Lucille Dixon, a 53-year-old nurse and mother of seven. Richard had been released from his second prison term eight weeks before Dixon was raped and killed inside her home.

Asked if he’d like to make a final statement, Richard said, “I’d like my family to take care of each other. I love you, Angel. Let’s ride.”

Another execution, the 27th in Texas this year, remained scheduled for today, and officials said Tuesday’s announcement by the Supreme Court would not affect the state’s execution docket.

“We will go forward with our interpretation of the law,” Gov. Rick Perry said.

Ten of the 37 states that use the three-drug cocktail under review by the Supreme Court have suspended its use after opponents alleged it was ineffective and cruel, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. But Texas is unlikely to halt lethal injections unless the Supreme Court issues a blanket stay.

“We are monitoring this, but until the court rules or gives direction, nothing changes from our perspective,” said Allison Castle, a Perry spokeswoman.

Memphis, Tenn.

Equipment failure disrupts air traffic

Communications equipment failed Tuesday at a regional air traffic control center, shutting down all airline traffic within 250 miles of Memphis and causing a ripple effect across the country that grounded dozens of passenger and cargo flights.

The problem started when a major telephone line to the Memphis center went out at 12:35 p.m. EST. The Federal Aviation Administration said air traffic control operations were back to normal about three hours later.

Air traffic control centers in adjacent regions handled flights that were already in the air when the problem was discovered.


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